At what point in time before deposition should you start to prepare your client?
First, let’s look quickly at the deposition or trial preparation process, which should focus on client mindset, emotional manipulation, hard questions, memory refreshers, and role play. These and other steps should occur over several meetings on different dates, thus eliminating the day before deposition scramble.
One essential piece in planning is the deposition date itself. Using the date, you can work backwards to schedule the meetings with the client. I prefer to use the 7-10 days before the deposition to work with the client. However, I start my own preparation 14 days in advance.
Why should you wait until the deposition date is set to start prepping?
If you start too early:
- Client forgets and a refresher is required.
- Client has no context to understand the deposition.
- Other events occur, such as treatment or expert reports, that change the prep.
If you start too late:
- Client does not have time to process the information.
- Not enough time to refresh the client’s memory.
- Could rush and skip over vital steps.
Learn more about why we procrastinate with longer deadlines in this article in Harvard Business Review.
What does the deposition date provide? The date provides certainty and certainty confers significance. A client will take preparation more seriously when there is a deadline. Here is a great article on the psychological benefits of deadlines.
Main Takeaway: The deposition date creates the pressure we need to perform.
But if deposition preparation is so helpful for clients, why not immediately start on day one?
There is no doubt that deposition preparation provides incredible benefits like strengthening client trust and building deeper bonds between lawyer and client. But on day one, clients are scared, confused, upset, and need answers to their immediate problems. Clients are hyper focused on getting medical treatment, figuring out family arrangements, taking time off work, and worrying about how to pay for it all. During all of that, it is difficult to ask a client to think about the big picture of what happened to them.
On day one, our clients are in crisis mode, seeking to find immediate solutions to their emergency situations. During client crisis mode, we build trust and bond in a different way. Lawyers are knowledge workers. We provide the answers to their immediate problems, and help them out of crisis mode. But starting day one, you can still start making notes about the “big picture” and use those observations during the preparation when the time comes.
Another note on scheduling deposition preparation: Don’t allow a deposition to be rescheduled the day before!
The client will lose any momentum or energy they had built up to do the deposition. Further, they will likely fill that space with frustration and negative emotions, which will require days for you to help resolve!
You will have burned up your time! And you will have to start over with the client.
Do you have a client deposition coming up and have questions on scheduling? Have questions about preparing a client?
Click below to schedule a Client Prep Strategy Call with Elizabeth!